Explore the DG world:
Label & Releases
STAGE+
Andrè Schuen
Andrè Schuen

Andrè Schuen Sings Schubert’s Winterreise

Schuen Winterreise
04/26/2024

Baritone Andrè Schuen began his Deutsche Grammophon career in 2020 with a critically acclaimed reading of Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, recorded with his longstanding duo partner Daniel Heide. In 2022, the pair added Schwanengesang to their discography, a recording that went on to win the Solo Song category in the 2023 OPUS KLASSIK Awards. Now they complete their trilogy of Schubert’s major song cycles with a thoughtful and moving interpretation of the 24 inward-looking songs that make up the composer’s Winterreise. Recorded at the Markus-Sittikus-Saal in Hohenems, the album is scheduled for release digitally and on CD on 17 May 2024. Two of the songs will be issued as singles: “Frühlingstraum” on 29 March and “Der Leiermann” on 26 April.

For many, Winterreise is the alpha and omega of the Lieder repertoire. As Andrè Schuen says, it is quite simply “the first work that comes to mind when you talk about Lieder”. Having already set texts by Wilhelm Müller for Die schöne Müllerin, Schubert again found inspiration when, in 1827, just a year before his death, he read the poet’s two sets of 12 poems about a rejected lover whose grief drives him to steal away one winter’s night, accompanied only by his own shadow in the moonlight. The protagonist’s anguish is mirrored by the frozen countryside, cloudy skies and snow storms he encounters as he keeps walking, as summed up in “Der stürmische Morgen” (A Stormy Morning): “My heart sees in the sky/its own painted portrait;/it is nothing but winter,/winter chill and savage.”

Unlike Die schöne Müllerin, with its hope-to-despair narrative, Winterreise is overshadowed by heartbreak from the start. The first song, “Gute Nacht” (Good Night), explains something of the narrator’s lost love and his need hereafter to follow a “path veiled in snow”. Andrè Schuen, who grew up in the South Tyrolean Dolomites and is therefore no stranger to stark wintry snowscapes, points to the way in which the poems then switch between movement and stasis.  “There are scenes where time seems to stand completely still, states of mind that are in tune with the frozen nature of winter,” says the singer. “Then again, it moves on and on.”

Much of the music is declamatory in style, and Schuen performs it with a restraint that serves to heighten the pervading sense of melancholy, supported throughout by the equally brilliant pianism of Daniel Heide. Together the duo convey the nostalgia for the sense of peace once experienced in the shade of “Der Lindenbaum” (The Lime Tree); the dashed hopes expressed in “Frühlingstraum” (A Dream of Springtime); the chilling realisation in “Der Wegweiser” (The Signpost) that only one road lies open to the narrator, and so on, until the final encounter with the mysterious “Leiermann” (The Organ Grinder). “My assumption,” says Andrè Schuen, “has always been that he stands for death.”

Having performed Winterreise together many times, he and Heide have developed a freer approach to the emotional course it runs. “In the early years,” notes the singer, “I tried to set the route beforehand and plan precisely how I wanted to shape this or that point. Nowadays I experience this cycle much more in the moment, and am ready for everything surprising and unexpected that can arise on the journey.”

This recording of Winterreise also forms the soundtrack for the live-action/animation feature film A Winter’s Journey, inspired by Franz Schubert’s music and Wilhelm Müller’s poems. Writer and director Alex Helfrecht felt compelled to make the film after being rendered speechless by the music’s power and beauty. She set out to bring it to the big screen in a way that does justice to this magnificent work. By filming live actors in epic sets and immersive landscapes before painting over each frame, the film has the look of early 19th-century German Romantic paintings come to life, while retaining all the emotive power of the actors’ performances. A beautiful cinematic and musical spectacle full of emotion and drama starring John Malkovich, Marcin Czarnik, Gabriella Moran, Martina Gedeck, Jason Isaacs and Ólafur Darri Ólafsson.

Andrè Schuen - Schubert: Winterreise
SCHUBERT Winterreise / Andrè Schuen
May 17, 2024

More music from Andrè Schuen

Show all
Andrè Schuen - Schubert: Winterreise
SCHUBERT Winterreise / Andrè Schuen
May 17, 2024

More news from Andrè Schuen

Show all
Andrè Schuen Sings Schubert’s Winterreise
Andrè Schuen Sings Schubert’s Winterreise
a month ago
Andrè Schuen
Follow Deutsche Grammophon online

Deutsche GrammophonContactImprintTerms & ConditionsPrivacy PolicyNewsletterCompetition conditions of participation